Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

DEFECTS OF OUR PRESENT ECCLESIASTICAL SYSTEM, AND

THEIR REMEDIES.
(Continued from Page 34.)

In order to remedy these defects in our Ecclesiastical system in reference to the market-towns in the agricultural districts, I would propose that one or more of the wealthy livings, or a greater number of those which are of smaller income, should be added to the cure of the Clergy in such towns, so as to secure the residence in them of at least three or four Clergymen. A single Service in the day, with occasional weekly visitation, would be all that is required, and as much as commonly they possses at present for these rural parishes; while the continued residence and ministrations of several Clergymen would be secured in the towns where they are so much needed. By bringing the endowed schools, and other institutions, more immediately under the superintendence of the Church in such places, each market-town would possess a collegiate church, which might be made a sort of cathedral in miniature, and thus realize one of the pious designs of Cranmer, and the early Reformers, who contemplated the formation of such institutions out of the property of the suppressed monasteries. I would unite with these collegiate churches institutions for aged and decayed Clergymen, who, at present, from the want of such retreats, are often compelled to continue their ministerial labours long after the period when they can discharge them with satisfaction to themselves, or with benefit to the Church, and the people committed to their charge.

A considerable difficulty here arises as to the means of effecting this change ; I think, however, that it is far from being insurmountable. Perhaps not less than one-fourth of such livings are in the patronage of the Crown, or of other public bodies ; as to the transfer of such patronage, then, there could be little difficulty. The patronage of these collegiate churches should be at once vested in the diocesan or other Ecclesiastical Corporations; and the funds for effecting these changes might be found in a coextensive sale or transfer of episcopal patronage, or of that of the Crown and other public or Ecclesiastical bodies, who might ve indemnified by sharing the patronage of the new institutions with the Crown and the several Bishops. If these sources failed, the annual incomes of the transferred livings might be appropriated to the extinction of the rights of private patronage in these respects, after deducting a sufficiency for the charge of paying Curates. And, supposing the Government would advance a sum of money for the purpose, on security of the incomes arising from such livings, the plan might be partially, or wholly carried into effect with little delay; at any rate, a few years (not exceeding, perhaps, twenty) would suffice, even without such aid, to bring about the change.

I must confess, Mr. Editor, that, to my humble view, the efforts hitherto made after what is called Ecclesiastical Reform have been in a wrong direction ; it is not the mere equalizing the incomes and labours of our few Bishops that can reach the defects of the Church, as really felt by the people at large. It is not by suppressing Canons, and other Cathedral Dignitaries, or by a transfer of their rights and patronage, that Defects of our present Ecclesiastical System, and their Remedies. 227

we should seek for improvement: rather, perhaps, the means of reward for ministerial usefulness, and theological learning, should be increased; whereas the proposed plans only go to diminish them. Even, at present, compared with the numerous Ecclesiastical offices and dignities suppressed at the Reformation, the number of such appointments must be considered very small; but to make them still fewer, is only to follow up the destructive pians of the courtiers and minions of the courts of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. Such collegiate foundations as I have just suggested would partially remedy the mischiefs already perpetrated ; and if, in addition to these, the Incumbents of the larger livings, and the Deans and higher Cathedral Dignitaries were converted into rural Deans and suffragan Bishops, so as to bring the whole country under a well-organized system of Ecclesiastical supervision and control, the efficiency of the Church would be greatly increased, and its general influence along with it. The very small number of our Bishops, compared with the increased population, deprive the great body of the Clergy and people of the real benefits of an Episcopacy. One benefit of the Reformation consisted in an increase of the number of Bishops ; and it is well known that a still farther increase was meditated by the Reformers ; and surely the state of the population, compared with itself at the time of the Reformation, makes such an increase far more necessary in the present day.

The above suggestions I recommend with confidence, because they are not my own, nor the new-fangled plans of modern Reformers, but partly the plans of Cranmer and his brethren, and partly the mere carrying out of those principles of Reform which they entertained. It is lamentable that, after three hundred years, we should still have to lament the defects, and mourn over the evils which so deeply affected them.

G. C. P.S. I find that one argument much insisted on for the revival of Convocation is somewhat opposed to what has been said above. The advocates for such revival say, that, however more efficient a general Synod of the Church might prove, yet Convocation is already made to our hands, and a body publicly recognised. These are, undoubtedly, very great recomı

mmendations; and I fully agree with them that Convocation is better than the present state of things. My fears, however, arise from hence; that if, from the causes above assigned, Convocation should not answer the general expectation, we should incur the danger of its entire suppression, and of an increased dislike, on the part of our rulers and the nation, to all such ecclesiastical checks on the civil government. If, however, we cannot obtain a better representation of the Church, I would say, let us endeavour, by all lawful means, to obtain the revival of the now dormant powers of Convocation. Is it not marvellous that the very men (Conservative Statesmen) who denounce the attempt to subject the army of England to the Minister of the day, and his political exigencies, should shut their eyes to the mischiefs arising from leaving the Church, its patronage, and its interests under the powers and control of the same sinister influence?

AN ATTEMPT TO HARMONIZE THE EVANGELICAL NARRATIVES

OF THE RESURRECTION. Sir,—Having lately been led to compare the several narratives of the Evangelists in regard to our Lord's resurrection, and the subsequent events, I have been much struck at the variety of methods adopted by the harmonists for their adjustment. The difficulty seems to me to arise chiefly from the means by which the accounts of Mark and Luke are to be reconciled to that of Matthew. This difficulty may, perhaps, be diminished by an attention to the peculiarities of the Gospel of Matthew, and to the undesigned coincidences which may be traced between his narrative and the more precise information intended to be conveyed by the other Evangelists. St. Matthew seems to have followed throughout his Gospel the order of time, and the exact series of events; St. Luke, on the other hand, seems to have chiefly designed the classification of events, without much regard to chronological arrangement; and St. Mark, to have pursued an intermediate method. There is also a peculiarity in St. Matthew's Gospel, arising from the use of the plural number, where one or both the other Evangelists use the singular. Thus, in the case of the demoniacs in the country of the Gergesenes, and of the blind men at the gate of Jericho, the other Evangelists name but one individual, while Matthew mentions two; and while Luke informs us that only one of the malefactors on the cross reviled Jesus, Matthew, followed by Mark, indefinitely says, " They also which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” The same mode of speaking has been also followed in Matthew's narrative of the third denial of Christ by Peter; “ They that stood by, said unto Peter."

Now, in the narrative of the resurrection, I think we may gain some light by bearing this peculiarity of St. Matthew in mind.' We know that no less than four women visited the sepulchre of Christ, “ in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn, towards the first day of the week ;" yet Matthew names two only, “ Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary;" and he ascribes the vision of the angel, and the message to the disciples announcing the resurrection of Jesus, and his intended appearance to them in Galilee, as happening to both the women: and, again, speaking of them both, he says, “And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came, and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid : go tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.' " And the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted.” Now I think, that bearing this peculiarity of the Evangelist's phraseology in mind, his use of the plural number in the above places by no means ought to stand in the way of our supposing it to be used indefinitely for the singular, if the parallel passages seem to require it. St. Matthew's account is evidently more indefinite than that of the other Evangelists; he passes over the several other appearances of Christ, during the forty days previous to his ascension, and only mentions the most distinguished one slightly, as it was supported, when he wrote, by so many surviving witnesses; and

the few words here recorded as uttered by Christ, are designed as an epitome of all the discourses of our Lord to his disciples subsequent to his resurrection. The absence of all mention of the ascension is a remarkable proof of the studied brevity of the Evangelist, and leads us therefore not to expect that minuteness of detail in this part of his Gospel, which the peculiarities of his situation, no doubt, called upon him to avoid. If then, in this part, the Evangelist only intended to give us an epitome, as it were, of the whole forty days' transactions, we are bound to explain it by a reference to the fuller narratives of the other Gospels, and to assign it to any period to which we can most conveniently adjust it.

As the narrative stands in the English version, it seems as if St. Matthew intended to leave the impression, that some of the eleven remained ultimately unconvinced : but this, surely, never could be intended; and we may rest certain, that had he thought such a construction of his words possible, he would have said much more than simply, "but some doubted." Various are the expedients of the critics to obviate the difficulty ; but the only one which is at all even tolerable, is that proposed by Le Clerc: "And they worshipped him ; even those who had doubted.” Even if the propriety of the original language be violated by such a translation (which however is far from certain), it is better than that violation of all probability and moral propriety, which arises from supposing that the sacred writer would simply leave his readers under such an impression without a word of explanation ; or without adducing the fact of the subsequent removal of the doubts, had such a fact ever taken place. I cannot then but regard this incidental allusion to the fact, that some had doubted, as requiring to be explained by a comparison with the other narratives ; and, at the same time, as a remarkable proof of the truth of the bistories thus undesigned by coincident, Mark and Luke also narrate but one appearance to the Eleven : but still we have again an incidental allusion to these doubts. “He upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen," is the language of the former; while the latter leads us one step further : Jesus said unto them, “ Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see: and he shewed them his hands and his feet.' St. John alone leads us to the true conclusion. A sense of delicacy and forbearance towards Thomas (similar to that which led them to suppress the names of Peter and Malchus, in the narrative of our Lord's apprehension by the officers), caused the suppression of the name of the doubting apostle during his lifetime: John had no such motive, and not only reveals the name, but also gives us the information, that the facts, which are narrated by his predecessors as occurring at a single interview with the Eleven, really comprised two distinct appearances ; and, if we take into account Matthew's Gospel, and consider that he intended to give us the history of an appearance to the Eleven in Galilee distinct from the two former, which were vouchsafed probably at Jerusalem, we shall see at once with what studied brevity these sacred writers narrated these events, and how they have thereby been led to comprise several distinct facts, in point of time, as occurring on a single occasion. It seems clear to me, that all these allusions are made to the

[ocr errors]

single incredulity of Thomas; or at least that that is the principal point of the allusion. • They worshipped him ; even those who had doubted.”' “My Lord, and my God," are the words in which that worship was expressed; whilst his reproof for their unbelief and hardness of heart, and the mention of “his hands and his feet," irresistibly brings before us the whole scene, at which the hitherto “faithless " Thomas became " believing."

The chief difficulty, however, in harmonizing the several narratives of the resurrection, arises from the appearance to the women, who came early to the sepulchre. To reconcile the Gospels in this respect, has afforded ample employment to the harmonizers. Some have been led to imagine two or more companies of women ; and such an extent of garden, and such numerous gates and avenues belonging to it, that these several companies might all seek the sepulchre at nearly the same time, and yet without one company meeting another, or being aware of another's presence. The improbability of all this is so great, and the difficulty arising from that being attributed to the whole company of which Mary Magdalene was the leader, which, in reality, happened to her alone, is so easily removed by a reference to the usage of the sacred writers, who so frequently do the same on other occasions, that I cannot but feel satisfied that there was but one company of women, and that the appearances were vouchsafed to Mary Magdalene alone. We are assured, that our Lord appeared to her first of all; and she is in every account represented as participating in the previous vision and message of the angels in the sepulchre: if then we suppose the rest of the company to have also received the same command subsequently, we must suppose Mary, contrary to the command of the angel to go quickly, to have waited for her companions, that she might hear the very same commands, and see the very same visions a second time. The objections to this seem formidable ; whilst the contrary supposition is easy of belief. The discrepancy in the narratives, as to whether there were two, or only one angel; as to whether the messages and visions were vouchsafed to the principal person, or to the whole company; and as to the precise time,- is really a matter of small account to any one who is acquainted with the sacred writings; whilst every circumstance besides, forces on us the conclusion, that all the Evangelists intended to narrate the same events. The angelic vision and message in the sepulchre is the same in all ; and so is the first appearance of our Lord; as we may learn, by considering the circumstances attending it, and the words spoken. Nor do the words of the two disciples going to Emmaus (Luke xxiv. 22—24), necessarily imply that some of the women had arrived and announced the vision of angels to the disciples, before the arrival of Mary Magdalene with the testimony of her having seen the risen Jesus; for the assertion, that the men “ went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said, but him they saw not,” seems to imply that some of the women had seen him. As to the discrepancy of the time, it is hardly worth discussion. The company of women had probably set out very early, while it was yet dark," in order that, having a considerable distance to go, they might arrive at the sepulchre before the break of day; and the transactions in the garden would extend the time to "the rising of the sun."

Whilst the difficulties in the way of the supposition, that there was

« ПредишнаНапред »